McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 - April 30, 1983), known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician, generally considered the "father of modern Chicago blues". He was a major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s, and was ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Although in his later years Muddy usually said that he was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in 1915, he was actually born at Jug's Corner in neighboring Issaquena County, Mississippi, in 1913. Recent research has uncovered documentation showing that in the 1930s and 1940s he reported his birth year as 1913 on both his marriage license and musicians' union card. A 1955 interview in the Chicago Defender is the earliest claim of 1915 as his year of birth, which he continued to use in interviews from that point onward. The 1920 census lists him as five years old as of March 6, 1920, suggesting that his birth year may have been 1914. The Social Security Death Index, relying on the Social Security card application submitted after his move to Chicago in the mid 1940s, lists him as being born April 4, 1913. Muddy's gravestone lists his birth year as 1915.
His grandmother Della Grant raised him after his mother died shortly after his birth, earning the nickname "Muddy" at an early age, before changing it to "Muddy Water" and finally "Muddy Waters".
The shack where Muddy Waters lived in his youth on Stovall Plantation is now located at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He started out on harmonica, but by age seventeen he was playing the guitar at parties, emulating two blues artists who were extremely popular in the south, Son House and Robert Johnson.[page needed]
On November 20, 1932, Muddy married Mabel Berry; Robert Nighthawk played guitar at the wedding, and the party reportedly got so wild the floor fell in. Mabel left Muddy three years later when Muddy's first child was born; the child's mother was Leola Spain, sixteen years old (Leola later used her maiden name Brown), "married to a man named Steven" and "going with a guy named Tucker". Leola was the only one of his girlfriends with whom Muddy would stay in touch throughout his life; they never married. By the time he finally cut out for Chicago in 1943, there was another Mrs. Morganfield left behind, a girl called Sallie Ann.